Q1: How badly does crop burning affect air pollution levels across North India during the Diwali season, that coincides with stubble burning?
A: Immensely! I mean, Air Pollution across North India is already reaching unfathomable heights. Take the day of Dussehra for instance. We at AQI India planned an interactive session on our website where we burned each head of our Virtual Ravana as the Air Quality Index shot up every 30 units. We expected a rise of 400, but due to major burning and celebratory firecrackers, the AQI went up to a whopping 800. Seeing as how the stubble burning session is going to coincide with Diwali, the quality of air is only going to worsen. There are chances that the severity of this rise can cause a major blow not only to the quality of air but the health issues that will mostly be caused by the smog that will be accumulated especially around the country’s capital.
Q2: Since the last year, the Supreme Court has resorted to taking some actions against alarming levels of pollution and smog. Do you think a stricter action this year would have helped too? So far, the only judgment that has come forward is the Supreme Court agreeing to the use of less polluting crackers.
A: For over two months, AQI India monitors have helped us study the different parameters of air pollutants and their adverse effect on our health. The rise in AQI level is worrisome and looking at the present condition we are living in, the Supreme Court should have definitely put a strict regulation against the use of firecrackers this Diwali. Bursting firecrackers only aggravates the concern of air pollution in the country. People need to understand that celebrating any festive season should never cost them their lives.
Q3: Are there any statistics you can provide to present how grave the problem of air pollution during the festive season is?
In India, the winter season is always welcomed with festivities. These festivals are celebrated by burning fireworks which possesses a copious amount of harmful chemicals and metals as their key ingredients. At times, a lot of these harmful chemicals don’t get burnt and eventually make their way into our lungs via the fine particles present in the air. When the air is saturated with such tiny particles which aren’t even visible to the naked eye, people are bound to suffer from breathing issues.
With the help of the AQI India pollution monitoring system located in different places all around the city, we were able to track the data in the month of October. It showed us that the Air Quality Index has exceeded the threshold level.
Other factors include burning garbage for warmth due to rise in cold temperature. People burn papers, plastic, wood, leaves or anything they can possibly get their hands on and could burn easily. They don’t take into consideration that these materials can raise the pollution level. Also, the farmers in nearby states like Haryana and Punjab burn crops in the month of October and November. This adds to the pollution level which is why there’s a rise in people visiting the hospitals complaining about breathing issues.
Q4: What measures do you recommend people to take for combating rising air pollution during Diwali?
Even though there is a petition for the complete ban of firecrackers, things don’t seem to be gliding that way. In spite of a partial ban on firecrackers last year, the Delhi smog was one of the most grievous disasters that we had to face. I mean, anyone who was in Delhi can rightly say how the smog put us all in a mental and physical state of complete chaos. If I was to say, Pollution masks are the only way one can fight pollution in the coming days. Installing AQI India outdoor sensors helps monitor several air pollutants that pose risk to your health, encouraging you to take precautionary measure in times when the AQI level is higher than the recommended level. Other than smart living, less use of personal vehicles, opting for the metro and a complete no-no to firecrackers is how we can fight this issue in the coming days.
To find more details on AQI, visit www.aqi.in.